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Gilonske to seek Vermilion County Board Seat

For the first time in many years, the District 1 Vermilion County Board election will feature a Democrat as one of the candidates standing for election.


Local youth Connor Gilonske recently announced that he would run for the Vermilion County Board in District 1.


Gilonske said he was inspired to run for the county board because he wants to inspire other young people to take an active interest in politics and government.


“My goal is to inspire more young people to get involved with the political system,” he said.
Gilonske, who is 19, only recently became interested in politics himself, joining the Vermilion County Democratic Party earlier this year.


Gilonske said he started getting involved with elections during the 2016 presidential election and started researching the different political parties.


“After discussing it with the party leaders, I leaned more towards the Democratic Party’s points of view,” he said.


Gilonske said the Democratic Party’s stance on supporting an individual's right to choose how to live their lives is one of the main things that drew him to the party.


“We believe it is the right of every person to choose how they live their life, not being dictated by partisan sides or religious affiliation or ethnicity,” he said. “That you get to be whoever you are and you have the right to make that decision yourself.”


Gilonske said his choice to run as a Democrat in a primarily Republican district has resulted in some negativity from people he has spoken with, but he said he won’t be distracted by this negativity.


“I will be a voice and representative for every person, no matter how negative or hurtful they can be throughout the entire process,” he said.


As for running for county board, Gilonske said he felt it was a good way to get started in government.


Gilonske has taken an active role in the party and hopes to get a Vermilion County Young Democrats chapter started in the future, though he recognizes it will be a challenge.


“Trying to get younger people enthused about politics is not the easiest thing to do,” he said

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Asked why he thinks young people have so little interest in politics, Gilonske said he believes its because young people become somewhat stuck to their parents political views and don’t really develop their own.


Gilonske said he is working on setting up different kinds of events to have informative sessions aimed at youths in an effort to develop their interests in politics.


He said these informative sessions won’t just focus on Democrat policies but will encompass Republican viewpoints as well.


“To let them know all the different options that are out there,” he said.


As for the main issues that Gilonske wants to address in his bid for the county board seat, he pointed to improving access to healthcare, specifically improved access to mental healthcare treatment.


Gilonske wants to increase the number of mental healthcare professionals and counselors available in Vermilion County in order to ensure that those suffering from mental health issues can have access to the treatment they need.


Gilonske feels that mental healthcare treatment options in Vermilion County are not as accessible as they could be and many people in the county suffer from mental health issues that are often hidden and not discovered until it is too late.


While Gilonske is still working on ways these goals can be achieved, he has been working on a way offer suicide prevention services in Vermilion County.


Gilonske said he has spoken with Kim Bryan, Executive Director of Rattle the Stars, a Champaign-based youth mental health advocate and suicide prevention program, about how handle suicide prevention in Vermilion County as well as way to bring more mental health resources into the county.


Gilonske said his campaign has gone well so far and he plans on having more events and fundraisers to get his name out into the community and share his views on topics.


Gilonske is the first Democrat to run for the District 1 Vermilion County Board seat in quite some time.


“The clerk’s office told me that I’m the first Democrat candidate in a while,” he said. “I can’t remember who the last one was, but it was definitely before I was even born.”


Gilonske is a member of the First Church of God and works with children with behavioral disorders at the church.


District 1 to Elect Connor Gilonske
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